Shop Floor Control & Production Management

Our main area of expertise is Manufacturing and Distribution. Sometimes, specially in the past, we have done custom software for other sectors as well.

What is Shop Control Software or Manufacturing Control Software

A decent size manufacturing facility is usually made up of two parts:

  • Shop or manufacturing facility
  • Front office where the administrative tasks happens

In many cases the above facilities do not talk to each other or share the information in traditional pen and paper or Excel files.

A manufacturing control software or shop control software is a piece of software that connects both back office or manufacturing facility to the front office. It can have other names such as

  • Shop Floor Tracking System or Software
  • Shop Floor Scheduling Software
  • Shop Floor Control Software
  • Shop Floor ERP Software
  • Job Shop Management Software

When deployed properly, a shop control software will provide the following features

  • It allows the front office to generate demand for production or work order based on the sales orders
  • Front office can track the work orders per workstation and per employee
  • Front office can schedule the jobs per workstation and per employee
  • Front office can plan to purchase raw material based on the production demand
  • Multiple dashboards can give the managers a precise view of the current status of the facility as well as key performance indicators and alerts

Managers can also track raw material consumption as well plan ahead based on the current and projected demand

Shop and Manufacturing Control Software Cycle

Shop Manufacturing Control Software Cycle

A general idea of the manufacturing cycles is as follows:

  • A new sales order by a customer arrives
  • It generates demand for production work order
  • Production work order generates demand for nesting work orders. Nesting work orders are the ones that process raw material, like a metal sheets, into new multiple raw materials to be used by different production orders
  • Both types of work orders generate demand for purchasing raw materials
  • Once all production orders and purchase orders are created, the purchase orders are placed against the outside vendors and work orders are scheduled to run at the manufacturing facility
  • Production orders are done in steps and each step can usually be done after the previous step is completed and if the required raw material is available.
  • Work orders usually run through the shop along with a piece of paper called traveler. A traveler is usually a barcoded list of steps to take and the required raw material in order to finish each step.
  • As operators finish each step, they either use a barcode scanner or manual input the notify the system on the status of the step
  • In case of advanced CNC equipment, the shop control software can directly connect and get the information directly from the equipment with no human involvement.
  • One of the important features of any manufacturing floor tracking software would be for the shop floor staff to be able to communicate the down time or any other issue with the equipment back to the management or maintenance staff.
  • Once all the steps of a production order are completed, it results into the finished good that can be shipped to customer
  • Finished goods are usually shipped to customer on pallet or other types of packaging. Each pallet is usually barcoded with information on what is being shipped and where it should be shipped to

Once the shipment leaves the facility, it should be invoiced and then customer account debited. At this time, other charges like shipping or taxes are applied.

Manufacturing Floor Dashboards

A dashboard in a shop or manufacturing control software derives the information from shop floor, summarizes and displays it in way that is easy to understand and visualize by the management. Please only note that dashboards without a live shop floor management system is useless. It is not practical to manually enter the operational data and then try to create a dashboard out of it

Some of the commonly used dashboards in a shop floor tracking software are:



Shop Floor or Production Floor Live Dashboard

This shop floor dashboard is probably the most important one. It tells you how each work order is progressing, at what step and status it is and when it is expected to finish. This is especially important if the customer is on the phone and you are trying to find an answer as when the shipment can leave your facility. For such purposes, this dashboard should also include a search feature, so you can search by specific order or customer

A sample such a dashboard is shown below:

Shop Floor Production Floor Live DashboardScheduled vs the Actual Production or Schedule Attainment

This report or dashboard can give you an idea if you are on track with the scheduled production or not. It can give you live view into your manufacturing or shop floor or a daily or weekly report. Usually a daily or even weekly report is good enough to take correctional actions.


Scheduled Vs Actual Production GraphScheduling Dashboard

This report or dashboard gives you an idea on how your schedule is and how much of your resources, both human and equipment you are using. Say in the diagram below you see that your P341 will be idle for more than 3 days. The same could be true for your human resources that are manufacturing at the shop floor.

This report can be either a live dashboard or a daily report. In most cases a daily report will do the job.

Scheduling Dashboard

Overall Manufacturing Equipment Efficiency / Overall Shop Floor Employee Efficiency

Overall Manufacturing Equipment EfficiencyEquipment efficiency is always an area of interest to managers. It usually involves both employee and equipment efficiency. Equipment efficiency is compared against the nominal capacity of the equipment. However, employee efficiency report is not that straight forward. I can be compared against other or top employees or against the working hours of the shop floor equipment where the operator has been working.

Equipment efficiency can be calculated using the below formula

Shop Floor or Manufacturing Defects

Shop Floor Or Manufacturing DefectsDefects report will give you an idea of how many, when and why defects happened during manufacturing process at the shop floor. This report is especially important if you manufacture expensive items.

The defects report can be an offline, say weekly or monthly report or a live dashboard. For a manufacturing facility with automated equipment that produce parts in mass, like an original equipment manufacturer (OEM,) having it as a live dashboard is trivial. In such cases we should be able to prevent from defects say in case of equipment failure to prevent from further loss.

Shop Floor Tracking Software Customization and Integration

Manufacturing is a diverse industry. It spans from chemical and oil refineries to metal and wood production, original equipment manufacturers and even auto and aerospace manufacturing. Each of these types of manufacturing have their own way of doing business and of course have their own specific requirements.

The difference in the way of doing business is still there, even if you narrow down to a very specific type of manufacturing like industrial cutting tools manufacturers up to 2 inches in diameter. Still some of them outsource some processes like coating, some do not. Some of them buy rods and chop them before putting into CNC machine, some do not. Some do special tools for specific requirements, some do not.

That is simply the reason why one manufacturing and shop floor tracking software does not fit all. It must be customized and, in many cases, integrated with other systems that customer has. Say shop floor tracking dashboard system, in most cases should be integrated with the ERP that customer uses on one side to get the manufacturing schedule and on the other hand connect to the equipment or workstation that runs on the shop floor. This way the dashboard can recognize the difference between the schedule and the actual and provide meaningful reports on how well the shop floor is performing.

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We provide software and services in the following areas:

Inventory System that covers a full cycle purchasing, to manufacturing and invoicing

Shift Communication System to facilitate communication between all members of staff

Custom Software development for Manufacturing and Distribution

System Integration, again for Manufacturing and Distribution